Andy Sargent is a Designer

Andy Sargent is someone I met during a past Marketing job. His was the design agency responsible for making the brand look pretty and I was the client. During that time I learnt that not only was he a savvy design thinker who didn’t care too much for trade show stands, but a genuinely nice human. I also recalled him being an engaged Dad, regularly talking with enthusiasm about his kids and running marathons.

Since leaving that role, I have come across his work in many realms. Friends of mine who are designers quickly turn into fan-boys at the mention of his studio South South West’s name.

I wanted to get an insight into his parenting style with Otto and Coco, and how creativity plays a part in his life as a Father and Designer.

Meet Andy.
— Lach
" I’m not a believer in luck or fate, so I think opportunities and happiness can be cultivated and created by providing the right environment and grounding." Andy Sargent

" I’m not a believer in luck or fate, so I think opportunities and happiness can be cultivated and created by providing the right environment and grounding." Andy Sargent

Photography by Toby De Lorenzo Just Like Frank

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Dad? 

I was 21 at the time so as you can imagine it was overwhelming for the first few months or so, but at the same time exciting of course.

How was the experience of birth, from your perspective as an on-looker?

Incredible. Something that is hard to put into words.

Describe those first few days at home with a new baby...

The first few days after each of our children were born were very similar.  After the birth I felt like my feet were barely touching the ground. I remember the first few days at home as being pivotal in the sudden realisation that it’s all very real, and that even though you really don’t have any training or advice for every aspect of parenting, it’s instinctively within us all to look after one another and our children.

What HAS Fatherhood taught you?

Fatherhood has offered me perspective. Being a father so young, at the time when most people are jumping around quite a lot without too many commitments, I feel as though having that perspective and enormous responsibility helped shape me, prioritise and understand who my true friends were/are. Fatherhood has also taught me to be patient, that nothing is perfect and that things don’t always go your way. 

What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

Balancing time. Learning to be patient. Always trying to lead by example. Not using the car horn too much.

What is the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part is having the privilege of raising two amazing children and watching them grow, learn and develop daily. Right now, this year, one of the highlights of my week is coaching Otto’s basketball team who are all around the same age. It’s really rewarding helping them learn to work as a team, support one another and develop their games.

What does having kids make you think differently about?

Priorities. What’s really important in life. What experiences are genuine and formative and which ones are transient or of no consequence.

Photography by Toby De Lorenzo Just Like Frank

Tell us about your agency South South west?

SouthSouthWest started almost 8 years ago as a three-way partnership between myself, Jonathan Price and Adam Gibson. We all studied together at University of Tasmania and had loosely discussed the potential to working together in the future. We all took different paths within Fine Art degrees including graphic design, painting, photography and printmaking ,all of which remain fundamental to the studio today. These days, Jonathan and I are still running the studio and are lucky enough to have eight or so super talented employees as well. 

What have been some your favourite briefs to date?

This is a really hard one but the one single brief that springs to mind was for the Nike Identity and event experience for the 2013 NBA All Star weekend. The brief was incredibly inspiring and challenging and at the time was our biggest, most public example of capability we had been briefed on. At the end of the day the brief was “imagine a 16 year old kid who’s crazy about basketball, think about what would totally blow his mind”.I’m still really proud of the outcome despite the work being a couple of years old now.

Because we work with a full range of projects and people, big and small, there are also many other smaller projects that are up there including a recent project for a new custom engineered cycling company by a group of passionate riders and engineers. 

How do you balance running a business and family?

It’s tough, but there are also big advantages. My wife also runs her own business and does an amazing job as the ‘primary’ carer at this stage. We’re lucky we can control our workloads (to a degree!) as well as plan to be flexible around school holidays and family holidays.

You are based in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Why do you think that area of the world seems to be such a creative and cultural hot spot?

Fitzroy and Collingwood are great, there are a lot of creative studios in the area. There’s an industrious and entrepreneurial spirit in the creative scene. That is, there are a lot of people doing inspiring work of all types. I think what has traditionally driven the influx of creatives is cheaper rents, hopefully those days aren’t over.

You do some design work in Botswana – tell us about how that came to be... 

We had a joint venture company in Botswana for a few years working on some large branding projects across the government, tourism and education sectors. A friend and business mentor of mine, who is a strong advocate for design, was leading a trade mission to South Africa and Botswana and talked me into taking part. It was a great experience to design for an entirely different culture, particularly in Botswana which is a leading example of  a well governed, rapidly developing African nation. These days we are more focused on the US and a growing list of companies we work with there. 

What in your opinion is good design?

There are so many different conditions that determine what good design is, but some of the more simple are:

Design that’s invisible. Design that functions and communicates so well that it doesn’t overpower the medium or the message.

Design that makes you smile. A lot more subjective but something I look for in design and process. I generally think if the designer has enjoyed the process and the creation, the enjoyment will show in the work.

Design you can feel. Design that makes you feel something, tells you a story, takes you somewhere, moves you. Again fairly subjective.

What has design taught you that you’d want to pass onto your kids?

The process of design itself requires discipline, patience, understanding, practice and creativity which are all good things to be able to pass on. More broadly, I’d love to be able to pass onto my kids the ability to find a job/career/calling they are passionate about and the potential for them to pursue it as a career. 

Photography by Toby De Lorenzo Just Like Frank

What are your strongest memories of your Dad?

My dad was incredibly supportive of me and the choices I made as a kid. He would always make time, regardless of the time of the day or the weather , to bowl to me in the nets, coach my soccer team, teach me and train me to play rugby and all the general running around involved in being a sporty kid. His style of parenting was probably more subtle than I think I am with my kids, but I always knew he was in my corner. 

Do you think he did a good job? 

He did and he still does. I had a great childhood and as adults, we’re great mates. 

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

A moment in particular that sticks with me is when the recession hit in the 80’s and he went through a bit of a rough patch career-wise. I remember how it seemed to effect him and how he bounced back which I can totally understand and relate to now. Both my parents have always worked really hard which I admire them for and have learnt from. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF FATHERS TODAY?

It seems like it’s more accepted that Dads are allowed to show love, passion, sensitivity and fragility more than they once might have, which i think is positive and healthy for children to see. I feel there is more awareness of both parents being less defined by gender,  combining or interchanging roles and duties that might have traditionally been defined by gender. 

what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

It’s hard to know but I know there will be many. As our children have grown there have always been little phases of growth/transition/development to negotiate. Being the best father and role model for my children and providing them with as many opportunities in life is probably pretty high on the list. Specifically for my son, teaching him what it means to be a modern man is also right up there.

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

Happiness and opportunities would be the biggest hopes. I’m not a believer in luck or fate, so I think opportunities and happiness can be cultivated and created by providing the right environment and grounding. 

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should aim to achieve?

I think this is deeply personal and scalable beyond comprehension so I think it’s best to keep it as simple as always being in the moment.

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South South West
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